Panoramas Made Simple—now available

Panorama ebook: Patagonia pano

We are excited to announce the release of our latest ebook, Hudson Henry’s Panoramas Made Simple. Hudson has a deep passion for panoramic photography, a legacy that goes back to the days of film, when he worked to translate his vision of the landscape in front of him into large digital print. Since then, Hudson has become a master of the panorama, and in this book, he shows you how easy it is to ditch your camera’s ‘auto’ mode and create stunningly beautiful panoramas that capture the grandeur of our world—and without needing to buy special pano gear:

The first panoramic photograph I remember seeing was a series of overlapping Kodak prints that my cousin laid out on his kitchen table to show the incredible view from atop a peak in the Pacific Northwest. I was amazed at the scale of the combined scene: it was big, with an ultra-wide angle, and highly detailed. Today, with the advent of digital cameras and sophisticated editing software, we can leave the kitchen table behind and easily merge individual digital photographs into high-quality, seamless panoramic mergers.

You don’t have to invest a lot of money in gear to create panoramas. You can begin using the simple panoramic techniques I cover in this book without purchasing any specialty camera gear whatsoever. If you have a decent tripod, that will help, but you can also create shockingly good panoramas without one. With some care, you can even capture surprisingly good panoramas with nothing but a smartphone.

Panorama ebook: Golden Gate bridge

Panoramas Made Simple is richly illustrated with gorgeous examples of Hudson’s panoramas, and includes helpful tips on shooting in the field, as well as the best ways to assemble your panoramas on your computer (with Adobe Lightroom Classic, Photoshop or ON1 Photo RAW).

The book is available now at the CDP bookstore for $9.99, with a free 30-day money back guarantee.

Click the gallery below to see the introductory chapter, or you can download a sample PDF of the introduction and the first chapter free via this link.

Photoshop Automator Actions for Photoshop CC 2018

The Photoshop Automator Action Pack has been updated for Photoshop CC 2018, and you can buy the latest version at RobotPhotoshop.com. This is a collection of Automator Actions that allow you to drive Photoshop from Apple’s Automator on Mac OS X. If you’ve never used Automator before, it provides a simple, drag and drop mechanism for creating complex automated workflows. Of course, Photoshop has its own Actions built-in actions facility, but Automator lets you build automations that include other applications, in addition to Photoshop. What’s more, with the Photoshop Automator Action Pack you can build workflows that include branching logic – different operations can be applied to different images based on their size, orientation, bit depth and more. If you’d like to experiment with Automator, a free version of the Photoshop Automator Action Pack is also available at RobotPhotoshop.com along with lots of tutorial videos.

Does Taking Photos Affect Your Memory?

While I remember this vacation, I don’t remember taking this photo – is there a chance I’d have a better recollection if I’d put down the lens?

With the holidays fast approaching—I stepped into a Target last week and their Christmas displays were already up!—it’s time for family visits and hours of travel. One of the top items that people pack when they head out on vacation is their camera. We want to capture all our moments: when the family gets together on Thanksgiving day, when the colors explode at sunset over the ocean and that hilarious split-second a seagull steals your kid’s ice cream cone.

Many photographers struggle to figure out which camera and lens to pack, but I was curious about whether I should pack one at all. As I take photos of all those beautiful moments I want to remember, does taking them actually help my memory? By recording the best sunrises and most delicious dinners, will I have a better recollection of all the moments I want to save?

Earlier this year, I found an amazing article by Jenny Chen on New York Magazine’s Science of Us blog entitled How Taking Photos Affects Your Memory of the Moment Later On. It’s a short look into the world of how we build memories in the digital age, with evidence on both sides of the fence. While many of the studies Chen cited promoted the idea that there’s little difference to your memory if you take photos or not, I’m definitely a firm believe in one key point; we need to spend less time with our eyes behind our phone screens and more time enjoying the view.

The “cost” of software (Lightroom redux)

I have been fascinated with the furor that has whipped up many photographers about the release of Adobe Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic. As I noted previously, I totally get the idea that people are getting weary of ‘subscribing’ for software, even if that’s really what we have all been doing for years. My friend Jeff Carlson is doing a good job of talking about this issue, and today has an interesting piece called Math is Hard, or, A Quick Look at Lightroom Pricing. In it, Jeff talks about the cost of purchasing and upgrading a product like PhaseOne’s Capture One Pro vs. the costs of having an Adobe software subscription (in either Lightroom incarnation).

Jeff is spot-on in his analysis: if you are someone who is serious about your photography, and you want to remain current with the latest in features and performance, Adobe’s $120 per year for Lightroom (both versions) and Photoshop is a good deal. It is made better by the fact that Lightroom really is the best product for most photographers in the market, but if you don’t like Lightroom/Photoshop, or are upset about Adobe’s policies, there are many alternatives in the market for you to use. Read more »

Thoughts on the Lightroom announcements

It has been a crazy few days, following Adobe’s announcements about the new Lightroom(s) and the Creative Cloud. There is a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt circulating, but that will die down over the next few weeks, as photographers on Adobe’s Photography plan play around with both the updated Lightroom Classic and the new Lightroom CC. (If you want an encyclopedic overview of everything regarding the Lightroom announcements, The Lightroom Queen is the place to go, to be honest.)

If you’re a user, looking at these announcements from the outside—i.e. you’re not a software developer—it can be difficult to understand why Adobe did what they did with Lightroom. Peter Krogh, an expert on digital asset management (DAM), has a fascinating post over on his website, entitled Lightroom and the Innovator’s Dilemma.

“But the architecture of Lightroom as a desktop application simply cannot be stretched enough to create a great mobile application. The desktop flexibility that has powers such a wide array of workflows can’t be shoehorned in to full cloud compatibility. The freedom to set up your drives, files and folders as you wish makes a nightmare for seamless access. And the flexibility to create massive keyword and collection taxonomies does not work with small mobile screens. After years of experimentation, the only good answer was the creation of a new cloud native architecture. As with the creation of the original Lightroom, this was done by taking the existing Camera Raw imaging engine and bolting it on to a new chassis – this time a cloud native architecture.”

Peter’s post is worth reading, especially if you’re confused or upset about Adobe’s direction. You might not like what Adobe did, but they are doing what any company must do if they wish to remain relevant: juggle the current (and future) needs of their users with the changing dynamics of technology, all while still trying to maintain a stable revenue (and profit) stream. Read more »

Jeff Carlson (and others) on the “new” Lightroom

Adobe today announced a whole new ecosystem surrounding Lightroom, which includes a new desktop app, called Lightroom CC, for Mac and Windows; updated iOS and Android versions (also called Lightroom CC); Creative-Cloud-based storage of your photos; and a rebranded (and updated) version of the “old” app, now called Lightroom Classic CC.

We have quite a few thoughts on this change, and will post something soon, but the best overview of the announcement out there is from our friend Jeff Carlson, over on DPReview. He summed it up best like this:

“For people who do not yet use Lightroom, or have been told by friends that they should use it but were intimidated by it, Lightroom CC should be a welcome introduction to the Adobe ecosystem. For photographers who have used Lightroom for years… it’s complicated.”

Read more »

Overviews of Photographic History

In my last post, about the person who wanted to “take better pictures,” I mentioned Beaumont Newhall’s classic book, The History of Photography: From 1839 to Present, and Edward Steichen’s The Family of Manas two books that influenced me heavily when I was younger. While I love monographs of individual photographers, histories of photography fascinate and and delight me, and I thought it might be worthwhile to mention a few more that I have loved over the years; most of these have found their way into my permanent library. Read more »

Taking “Better Pictures” Doesn’t Mean a New Camera

I had an interesting conversation with someone the other day, one that I felt was worth recounting here. I was at a bookstore, perusing photography books for possible review here on the website. It was clearly a very slow day at the bookstore; while I was at the register, the checkout dude murmured something like, “these look interesting…I’d really like to take better pictures.”

We had a short conversation about whether these books might help, and he then asked me if I was a photographer. I told him yes, but that I was really more of an editorial guy who published a website about photography.

Without missing a beat, he said, “I really need a better camera. Which one should I buy?”

To which I replied, “Which phone do you have?”

Read more »

The Black-and-White Photo Mastery of Jason M. Peterson

While color photography has been with us in one form or another since the early 1900s, black and white remains for many of us as the pinnacle of the photographic arts. Capturing a scene properly in black and white is challenging, but when it is successful, the results have a beauty and a clarity that can be breathtaking. Most of the truly great photographers of the twentieth century—at least through the 1960s—shot solely with black-and-white film, despite the rapid rise of color slide film in the late ’40s and ’50s, and the wide-scale adoption of color print film after that.

The digital camera and the smartphone have largely relegated black-and-white photography as an afterthought—often via the click of a filter in Instagram or Lightroom—and I have long felt that this is one of the sad consequences of our modern world. I see plenty of black-and-white photos across the web, but so many of them are simply snapshots with the absence of color, and they lack the gravitas of great work.

Learning to see in black and white, and how to expose and compose for the gray tones is an art that requires study, experimentation and care, and it’s rare to see contemporary photographers who focus exclusively in this world. One who does, and has stunningly beautiful work, is Jason M. Peterson.

Age of quarrel by JasonM Peterson on 500px.com
Age of quarrel by Jason M. Peterson (500px.com)


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First Look at Photoshop Elements 2018

I’ve always believed that Photoshop Elements is the best-kept secret that Adobe has hiding in their arsenal. If you haven’t played around with it, I think you’ll be shocked by its features: it boasts everything from advanced selections with the Refine Edge feature to simplified Guided Edits that keep your processing streamlined. Every time I chat with another photographer about software, they never can believe how much DNA Photoshop and Photoshop Elements share.

Every year, when Adobe introduces their new version of Elements, they always toss in a few fun, fresh features to keep PSE-loyalists happy. This year, I can’t believe how excited I am about two of their new Guided Edit styles: the Double Exposure creator and the Background Changer. These two photo editing methods are incredibly popular, but also tedious and can drive people crazy with making hand-drawn selections. Luckily, thanks to some quick steps, the process just got a whole lot easier!

Read more »